Europe’s central statistics body (a bit like the UK’s ONS) Eurostat today announced the worst unemployment ever figures ever seen in the bloc. They stood at 12.1% in March 2013, up from 12% in February, and the total jobless rate across the EU remained steady at 10.9%. It’s worth remembering that the February figures were also the worst we’ve ever seen since records began back in 1999.
Of course, the average number of people who are out of work is not the same everywhere in the bloc: the lowest jobless rates were recorded in Austria at 4.8% and Germany - Europe's biggest economy – at 5.4%, earlier this month. And if you look specifically at Greece, the figures are dire. The number of people out of a job jumped by an entire percentage point in a single month – up to 27.2%. Youth unemployment (people between 16 and 24) was up at 60%, with 59.1pc of them out of work in January. That’s up from 58.4pc in December last year.
The only nugget of good news in all of this is that the rate of inflation has simultaneously fallen to a three-year low. Consumer prices rose 1.2% in the 12 months to April 2013, down from February’s 1.7%. That’s a much lower figure than anyone was expecting, and means it is now the lowest it has been since February 2010. Eurostat puts the drop down to a dramatic fall in energy prices in the bloc, which is great for us Brits, literally burning our hard earned cash on ballooning energy costs.
Unfortunately, other measures suggest the situation is not going to improve any time soon. The most recent PMI data showed the eurozone's industrial output in March had fallen, making it unlikely that there will be any sudden spike in the job market - unless the service sector makes a surprise comeback. Add to that, Cyprus's economy is forecast to shrink 10% over 2013, and you’ve got a veritable smooth cocktail of economic ailments keeping the eurozone ship on the rocks.